CSU Professor Bob Abelman pens a primer for critical thinkers
If it’s true that everyone’s a critic, then it stands to reason that everyone should read Refereeing the Muses: A Theater Criticism/Arts Journalism Primer by Bob Abelman, a professor of media arts and technology in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University.
Dr. Abelman hopes the book will fill the void that he saw in the literature for media-criticism and arts-journalism courses such as the ones he teaches at CSU. But Refereeing the Muses isn’t aimed solely at students who aspire to careers in criticism or arts journalism.
“It’s really for anyone who wants to be a more critical thinker,” Dr. Abelman told ENGAGED. “Being able to evaluate something critically and being able to influence people by writing eloquently and efficiently are important skills for all of us.”
Dr. Abelman is an award-winning critic himself whose theater reviews appear in The News-Herald, a daily newspaper serving Cleveland’s eastern suburbs. He also is a produced playwright and a professional actor. He co-authored the book with Cheryl Kushner, a Kent State University journalism professor and former newspaper editor.
Refereeing the Muses arrives at a time when many newspapers and magazines are devoting less space to professional criticism and arts coverage, due to the impact of the digital revolution on print advertising revenue.
“At the same time, the Internet is giving voice to many people who are becoming critics, through blogs and so on,” Dr. Abelman said. “The problem is that they’re often uncredentialed or inexperienced. They’re offering an opinion, but they’re not really explaining it or offering thoughtful, interesting critical perspective. They’re not doing what a critic really needs to do and what readers look for. This book is for them, too.”